New to Indian Food

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januaryfarm
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2005/07/08 17:52:33 (permalink)

New to Indian Food

What do you order to enjoy a nice meal, but not be faced with anything too unusual, spicy, goat-like, etc?
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    Poverty Pete
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2005/07/08 17:57:00 (permalink)
    My favorite is Sag Paneer, sort of an exotic creamed spinach. Tandoori chicken, any of the breads...most Indian curries aren't as hot as in other parts of southeast Asia.
    #2
    BT
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2005/07/08 23:06:12 (permalink)
    Well, it's hard for me to answer because I like spicy food and Indian food wouldn't be very enjoyable without some spice. That said, Indian food makes considerable use of cheeses, garbanzos and potatoes in many recipes that aren't highly spiced and tandoori foods aren't by themselves highly spiced either (a tandoor is just a clay oven that develops very high temperatures--most foods cooked in one are rubbed or marinated in yogurt and mild spices first).

    I will disagree with Poverty Pete the Indian curries aren't as spicey as those in Southeast Asia. India is such a large country and certainly those from south India, especially, can be very spicey indeed. Vindaloo, a form of curry from Goa in the south is my favorite and, if you do as I do and tell them to cook it as they would if they were going to eat it, is very spicey. But the usual pattern in India is to combine a spicey dish with something to cut the heat so I always eat my vindaloo with raita, a condiment made from yogurt, cumin and chopped vegetables, most often cucumber or tomato. Also, curries, spicey or not, are usually served with chutney which a similar to a fruit jam, the most common version of which is made with mango.

    So, my favorite Indian meal consists of chicken vindaloo, raita, mango chutney, rice (or a rice pilaf) and naan (a flat bread cooked on the side of the tandoor). And if I am eating with a group, I usually suggest sharing, as an appetizer, an order of samosas (a triangular pastry stuffed with a vegetable mixture, usually potatoes and peas) which are also usually eaten with chutney but commonly a type tasting mainly of mint or, my favorite, tamarind.

    To get an idea of the complexity of Indian food, see http://theory.tifr.res.in/bombay/history/people/cuisine/
    #3
    tacchino
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2005/07/09 00:03:03 (permalink)
    I find here in the New York City region, most Indian restaurants have tamed their native spiciness to accomodate our generally milder palates...in fact, I have to always request "extra hot" when I order, because the spice level will be extraordinarily tame otherwise.

    Other than that, the recommendations of saag paneer (I think that chickpeas are mixed with the spinach) and tandoori chicken would be good choices...as BT said, any of those cooling accompaniments, like raita (yogurt based) and breads would modify any spiciness.
    #4
    BT
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2005/07/09 02:55:46 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by tacchino

    I find here in the New York City region, most Indian restaurants have tamed their native spiciness to accomodate our generally milder palates...in fact, I have to always request "extra hot" when I order, because the spice level will be extraordinarily tame otherwise.



    I think that's true pretty much everywhere, but at least here in SF and at the only Indian place I've tried in Tucson (Delhi Palace) they often ask how you want it (mild or hot) and, as I said, I tell 'em to make it like they were gonna eat it but januaryfarm should probably just say "not hot" or "mild".
    #5
    Poverty Pete
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2005/07/09 04:32:24 (permalink)
    BT, we should go out for Indian food sometime...but not in Nashville. All the stuff around here tastes like Sterno. I love vindaloo. The only place that ever made it hot enough for me was in NYC
    #6
    twodales
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2005/07/11 01:26:21 (permalink)
    Try Chicken Tikka Masala. (You'll like it.) A little naan. Maybe some Pulao rice.

    By the way, you can ask for it to be mild.
    #7
    scbuzz
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2005/07/11 10:23:37 (permalink)
    My favorite is Lamb Vindaloo with jasmin rice and onion nan. You can usually have them tone down the heat in the vindaloo if you ask.

    #8
    Williamsburger
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2005/07/11 12:17:49 (permalink)
    I like Paita/Patia (sp?) dishes. They are flavored with mango.
    I agree with several of the other posters - tandoori is a good place to start and chicken tika masala is v.v.g. Our local (Williamsburg VA) Indian restaurant has lunch buffets, so you can sample different things. Perhaps you can find one in your area?

    Cathy
    #9
    BT
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2005/07/11 19:53:36 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by scbuzz

    My favorite is Lamb Vindaloo with jasmin rice and onion nan. You can usually have them tone down the heat in the vindaloo if you ask.




    Or tone it UP as I prefer. What's the point if your brow doesn't sweat and your sinuses open up?
    #10
    laytonj1
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2005/07/11 21:03:22 (permalink)
    Samosas are really good as an appetizer or side... Potatoes, peas and a little spice wrapped in dough and deep fried. I always order chicken tika masala or lamb curry... very tasty.
    #11
    kland01s
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2005/07/12 13:42:15 (permalink)
    I had samosas for the first time Saturday at a real hole in the wall in Downers Grove, Il. They came with 2 sauces, one a red chili paste and the other a green sauce that was garlic, cilantro and basil. The green sauce was so good I wanted to put it on everything! I wish I grabbed a menu to remember what we had. We had 3 different breads, a puffy one about 12" across, a round pancake like one with chili and green onion infused in it and then a giant 20" one, very thin and folded over a potato pea mixture. We had several dishes of chick pea and potato mixtures to share and a bowl of fried dough bits covered with a red chili and yorgurt that was sweet and very addictive. This place was strictly vegetarian, very good but the nature of the breads being used as a utensil made everything a little greasy. My friend who has an Indian office mate ordered all the food.
    #12
    Nachise
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2005/07/22 12:20:40 (permalink)
    I believe the dish with the crackers, chickpeas, and potatoes with the sauce and yogurt is Chat Papri. It is addictive.

    If you go to a vegetarian Indian restaurant and you are hesitant about spicy food, try an utthapam. This is a large pancake, for lack of a better term, which is made with a rice and lentil flour batter. We usually order a mixed vegetable utthapam, which we have nicknamed "Indian Pizza". It usually has carrots, tomatoes, peas and onions mixed with the batter. It is usually accompanied with coconut chutney and sambar, a type of lentil/vegetable soup.

    Samosas are the appetizer which will pass or fail the acid test in an Indian restaurant. They are one of my favorite appetizers and a quick and dirty small meal.

    I have found vegetarian Indian restaurants to be far more interesting than those that serve meat. Anyone who thinks that a vegetarian diet would be boring should try a good Indian vegetarian restaurant.
    #13
    craigdexter1
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2005/09/28 17:51:24 (permalink)
    Has anyone tried Chicken Byrani? This is the best. I usually order Chicken Byrani, Vegatble Curry, Extra Basmati Rice, Of course some Nan Bread. The Papa doms usually come with the meal. This is great food folks. If you ever in london ask for Pashwary Nan. It has fruit and nuts in it and is a sweet bread.
    #14
    Fieldthistle
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2005/09/29 07:14:13 (permalink)
    Hello All,
    I love Chicken Saag with an side of naan. At the local restaurant in Harrisonburg, you can choose the spice or heat level, from 1 to 4. I have never been a lover of spinach, but this is the only way I can eat and love it besides in a salad.
    Take Care,
    Fieldthistle
    #15
    autumneyez
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2005/10/26 00:35:43 (permalink)
    You can not go wrong with Tandori Chicken, Dal (beans), Naan (Indian flat bread) , and of course for dessert, Gulab Jamun (fried dough balls soaked in rose syrup) !!! Yummy!
    #16
    mohan
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2005/11/23 11:27:19 (permalink)
    [url='http://www.coimbatorecity.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=34&Itemid=37']Chicken Biryani[/url] is the best I love.
    #17
    Sandy Eggo
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2005/11/23 17:45:10 (permalink)
    I love spicy food and enjoy Indian food. I once was with a dinner party at an “upscale” Indian restaurant in San Francisco named Gaylord’s. When the waiter (who was from India) asked us how hot we wanted a particular dish (from one to ten?) we asked him how hot he would ask for. He replied “fifteen.” He said they could make the food very “hot” but that most customers don’t like it and some have refused to pay.

    Some people would call me a “pepper-head” because I like spicy foods. I eat jalapeños, hot peppers, curries, hot salsas and anything spicy. Of Mexican, Chinese (Szechwan style aka Kung Pao), Cajun and Indian. I think the “hottest” food I have had is Indian.

    With the exception of my first “Sushi” experience when I immediately consumed the green stuff on the plate assuming it was Avocado. It was wasabe!
    #18
    DLnWPBrown
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2005/11/23 17:57:46 (permalink)
    I agree with BT, most Indian curries are hot unless you specify that you want it mild. I order medium and that is plenty hot enough for me.



    Dennis in Cary
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    Born in OKC
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2005/11/25 11:48:33 (permalink)
    BT or another,

    Many, many years ago, my momory is that Sports Illustrated had a recipe feature. They once published a old Goan vindaloo featuring pork with the comment that it obviously had been developed by or for Christian colonists.

    Does anyone have that receipe tucked away somewhere? If so, I'm certain that many on this board would be interested.
    #20
    shortchef
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2005/11/25 15:03:35 (permalink)
    If you live in eastern Maryland (we lived in Frederick before coming to Ohio; they don't know from Indian food here) find a Bombay Grill. It is not a chain but there are several of them. Try the lunch buffet so you can taste a number of different dishes. Everything I ever had was luscious including a wonderful rice pudding for dessert; the Tandoori chicken is excellent and all the vegetables are yummy. They serve you warm naan that almost floats into your mouth. This is a white-tablecloth restaurant and I never had dinner there but heard great things about it. There are a couple of Bombay Grills in DC and thereabouts.
    #21
    albinoni
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2006/04/03 11:46:28 (permalink)
    Last month we discovered Haandi, a Bengali place on Lex and 27th (heart of Curry Hill). We've been there several times since, and it is one of our favorite Indian places anywhere (and we fondly remember the Jackson Diner in Queens before its move and downhill slide). Haandi is probably not where you would go for a first date. It has long tables that may be totally empty or that you'll share. (It's very popular with cabbies, South Asian families, and young people who appreciate the quality and value of the food). It has no menus--just signs that post the different offerings and prices, and there is a long steam table behind glass and you can point to what you want or ask what it is you are looking at. The lunch/dinner special is 2 meats, rice and veg for $6.99 (yes, this is for real). They'll fill up the plate and nuke it, then bring it out to you on a cafeteria tray along with a salad, raita (herbed yogurt) and naan($1). They won't ask how hot you want it--it is medium hot, at least by our standard, but certainly, mild is not an option. The flavors are incredibly complex and the preparations well executed. Definitely one of NYC's best values.

    Charlie
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    rjb
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2006/04/03 12:01:12 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by albinoni

    Last month we discovered Haandi, a Bengali place on Lex and 27th (heart of Curry Hill). We've been there several times since, and it is one of our favorite Indian places anywhere (and we fondly remember the Jackson Diner in Queens before its move and downhill slide). Haandi is probably not where you would go for a first date. It has long tables that may be totally empty or that you'll share. (It's very popular with cabbies, South Asian families, and young people who appreciate the quality and value of the food). It has no menus--just signs that post the different offerings and prices, and there is a long steam table behind glass and you can point to what you want or ask what it is you are looking at. The lunch/dinner special is 2 meats, rice and veg for $6.99 (yes, this is for real). They'll fill up the plate and nuke it, then bring it out to you on a cafeteria tray along with a salad, raita (herbed yogurt) and naan($1). They won't ask how hot you want it--it is medium hot, at least by our standard, but certainly, mild is not an option. The flavors are incredibly complex and the preparations well executed. Definitely one of NYC's best values.

    Charlie

    When and where did the Jackson Diner move? And how far downhill did it slide? I used to love that place and the surrounding environs.
    #23
    GeoNit
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2006/04/03 12:36:57 (permalink)
    Here's a link for dozens of Indian food websites:

    http://www.cbel.com/asian_recipes/

    I discoved this link while browsing through the food links at:

    http://www.floras-hideout.com/kitchen/index.html
    #24
    albinoni
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2006/04/03 14:34:09 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by rjb

    quote:
    Originally posted by albinoni

    Last month we discovered Haandi, a Bengali place on Lex and 27th (heart of Curry Hill). We've been there several times since, and it is one of our favorite Indian places anywhere (and we fondly remember the Jackson Diner in Queens before its move and downhill slide). Haandi is probably not where you would go for a first date. It has long tables that may be totally empty or that you'll share. (It's very popular with cabbies, South Asian families, and young people who appreciate the quality and value of the food). It has no menus--just signs that post the different offerings and prices, and there is a long steam table behind glass and you can point to what you want or ask what it is you are looking at. The lunch/dinner special is 2 meats, rice and veg for $6.99 (yes, this is for real). They'll fill up the plate and nuke it, then bring it out to you on a cafeteria tray along with a salad, raita (herbed yogurt) and naan($1). They won't ask how hot you want it--it is medium hot, at least by our standard, but certainly, mild is not an option. The flavors are incredibly complex and the preparations well executed. Definitely one of NYC's best values.

    Charlie

    When and where did the Jackson Diner move? And how far downhill did it slide? I used to love that place and the surrounding environs.


    About 5-6 years ago, the JD left its little hole in the wall location near the corner and moved to a big space in the middle of the block where the Woolworth's used to be. We went there and were totally disappointed in how mediocre the food had now become. Our perceptions were confirmed by friends' impressions, and by the postings on chowhound.com. Apparently there are other places in Jackson Heights that are really good, but since we've moved to Jersey, it's not around the corner for us, and we've lost touch with the Indian restaurant scene there.

    Charlie
    #25
    rjb
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2006/04/03 14:53:29 (permalink)
    I last went there in about 2000 (my how time flies) and I think it was at the "new" place. I was there with about five folks and we had a ball, with great food & fine service. Even got one of the waiters to run across the street & hunt up a couple of Kingfishers. Of course, one of our number was a Pakistani woman who was something of a regular.
    #26
    curried bluebonnet
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2006/04/13 00:04:23 (permalink)
    J-farm--There are not that many Indian places close to me, but many supermarkets (Kroger and HEB here in Texas) offer some packaged brands of sauces to make quick and easy curries at home. Pataks is one of the most prevalent. How authentic it is I do not know as an Irish girl from the midwest, but they are yummy! Some of the different chutneys are quite yummy, too--the eggplant relish especially. Good currying to you!
    #27
    tarragon
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2006/04/16 05:12:01 (permalink)
    One of my favorite Indian dishes is the Masala Dosa, a huge (and I mean really big!) pancake of the rice and lentil flour variety. It's usually stuffed with a mildly spicy potatoes/peas mix and served with sambar (soup) and another condiment that I've never found out the name of but it's sort of cool and a bit sweetish.

    There are many Indian restaurants in the DC metro area; most of them offer some sort of buffet option, which at lunch time can really be a bargain because you can sample a wide variety of dishes. I -love- Indian flatbreads, but they can be time-consuming and laborious to make; once, when I was making tandoori chicken at home, I went to a local restaurant, got several orders of chapatis and puris, and took them home to serve with my chicken.
    #28
    lleechef
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2006/04/16 05:23:48 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by curried bluebonnet

    J-farm--There are not that many Indian places close to me, but many supermarkets (Kroger and HEB here in Texas) offer some packaged brands of sauces to make quick and easy curries at home. Pataks is one of the most prevalent. How authentic it is I do not know as an Irish girl from the midwest, but they are yummy! Some of the different chutneys are quite yummy, too--the eggplant relish especially. Good currying to you!

    Pataks is quite authentic. I used to be the private chef for a couple in Paris, she was from India, he was French, they had Sri Lankan houseboys, so there was a lot of Indian cooking and we always had Pataks hot mango chutney on the table. Tissa and Nanaka (the houseboys) taught me how to make authentic curry and other Indian food. Lamb curry is still one of my favorites.
    #29
    BT
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    RE: New to Indian Food 2006/04/16 13:44:39 (permalink)
    There are a growing number of Indian markets here in San Francisco--places with a predominantly Indian or Pakistani clientel--and they all have a full line of Pataks products. And the ones I've tried have all been good. Incidentally, I love going to these places because of the smell. Most of them also sell spices in little paper or plastic bags which are not "odor proof" and the smells permeate the store.
    #30
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